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This website shows the work of Marjoleine (Georgette) van der Meij, post-doc lecturer and design researcher at VU Athena (Amsterdam, Netherlands).

In and beyond the university setting, I design, apply and investigate playful tools for public & stakeholder engagement or participation, and for learning & reflection in contexts of scientific or technological innovation.

My work, always performed in collaboration with others, varies from board games to (audio-visual) storytelling, covering topics like smart city innovation, synthetic biology, water management, and sustainable innovation in food. In that, I pay special attention to systematising the creative process, and creating tools for that, enabling others to (co-)create comparable tools for similar or different contexts.

My recent work is performed in the context of the European projects Synenergene and FIT4FOOD2030, as well as for national and local partners (Youth Care Amsterdam, NEMO Science Museum), with a Dutch Ministry or NWO as funder.

This website covers my recent teaching, design and research work. Since I adhere to Open Science principles, various tools related to projects can be downloaded here too.

Would you like to get in touch? You can find me at LinkedIn or here: VU University (Amsterdam) Athena department page

The picture above is a visualisation of science centers in the future as open space for playful dialogue.
To be playful and serious at the same time is possible, and it defines the ideal mental condition. Absence of dogmatism and prejudice, presence of intellectual curiosity and flexibility, are manifest in the free play of the mind upon a topic
Dewey, 1910, p. 162

Smart City dialogue tools

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The term smart city is often associated to the use of technology to make the lives of people in cities better. Despite possible sustainability benefits, the smart city idea also raises critical questions concerning the desired role of technologies in our lives.

In the project Catalyst Amsterdam, a collaboration between VU-Athena, TUDelft, NEMO and AMS (funded by NWO), I interviewed various smart city stakeholders and designed tools for citizen- and stakeholder dialogues on smart cities. In that, we paid special attention to public values, such as privacy, safety, justice and equality.

The photo on the right is a snapshot of a smart city board-game session in Amsterdam Noord. The video above is an artist impression of smart surveillance, which we use(d) in dialoge sessions to trigger conversations.

During this project I closely collaborated with Aafke Fraaije and Tomas Latchan.
I don't want to be smart, because being smart makes you depressed
Andy Warhol

Co-creation in food education

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How to incite food system transformation, so that every inhabitant of the world can eat nutritiously valuable food without exhausting our earth? Amongst others, by building food system-related competences. In the context of the European FIT4FOOD2030 project, I developed various tools to support food labs in creating educational modules for target groups like school children, university students, and professionals. The picture above is a matrix to stimulate conversations about desired food visions. Below, a picture of a morphological matrix. In the project, this functioned as a tool to design educational modules for developing food system-related competences.
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One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
Virginia Woolf

Opinion Lab

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The Opinion Lab (OL) is an exhibit prototype that supports parents and their children aged 8 to 12 in forming an opinion about synthetic biology, by means of several carefully designed playful tools such as a puzzle, audio, and visualisations. In the design we applied principles of frame reflection as well as opinions of synthetic biology that were found earlier in Dutch citizen dialogues on synthetic biology.

Conference session at PCST2016
Article in Roots
See the about me page.

In the near future it will be more common that societal actors are asked to engage in dialogues about science and technology. Therefore our next generation citizens needs to feel equipped to engage in (amongst others) processes of deliberation on science and technology. Science learning spaces like science centers can take a role in preparing youngsters for this 'techno-scientifically deliberative citizenship'.
I think my dad sees it different than I do. But that's ok!
Girl aged 10 (partipant of an Opinion Lab test session at Nemo, 2015)

Frame Reflection Lab

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The frame reflection lab (FRL) is a reflection tool that supports people in active thinking and opinion forming about synthetic biology (synbio) - or more general, the relation between humans and technology - in a playful way. The FRL is a blended learning environment: it consists of online video narratives that each show a different 'framing' of synbio. Session participants discuss and analyse the videos in an 'offline' workshop, enabling participants to discover their own vision on the role of this new technology in society as well. The framings shared by the online video stories are based on two central questions in the philosophy of technology:
  • Are human beings and technology to be two separate worlds or one merged world? And
  • Do human beings have the most power in where our future will be heading to, or technology?

The FRL is developed at VU Athena, in collaboration with Frank Kupper, with the funding of Synenergene.

See the video's here:
What is synbio?
Synbio & the future

See the workshop timeline in the image below.
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In a conversation we can understand one another better if we elicit the underlying values and assumptions in which our rationale roots
Schön, 1983 (no literal quote this time)

Game about trust

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Game about Trust supports organisations to create a strategy for (re-)building trust by means of a self-analysis. The game is suitable for trust issues (1) within an organisation, (2) between an organisation and its partners or other external parties, or (3) on the scale of society at large.

Game about Trust was developed in collaboration with EuroRSCG Bikker & TUDelft and lately redeveloped by Marjoleine, building upon experiences of applying it in advisory trajectories in healthcare companies.
Trust is the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party
Mayer et al., 1995, p. 712

Sam de Waterman

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Sam the Waterman is a method that helps Dutch children aged 4-8 to develop water drinking routines, together with the adults around them (parents, school teachers, caring professionals, etc.). The method consists of a reading book, a drinking cup, audio (song), colourings, and support in applying the method (instructions and Facebook).

Take a look at the Sam the Waterman Facebook page for more information and details, or see the video below of our collaboration with GGD Zeeland.
Ik ben Sam, Sam de Waterman. Ik drink water zoveel als ik kan. Doe jij met mij mee?
Sam de Waterman

Delta Game

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The Delta game is a 'serious board game'. It supports employees of Ministries, municipalities, provinces, water institutes, and design, architecture or landscape agencies to exchange and update knowledge about sustainable (re-)development of urban and sub-urban areas in the Netherlands. By means of this game, employees coming from totally different worlds can get to know each others’ perspectives. Thereby the game sets a fruitful base for collaboration in public area (re-)development.

This game was developed with funding from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, in close collaboration with photographer, designer and text writer Martien Versteeg. More information about the Dutch Ministerial Delta program can be found on the website of Martien Versteegh, Donkigotte.
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein

Outreach & publications

Public lectures and conference sessions:

Scientific and popular scientific publications:
  • Schuijer, J., Van der Meij, M.G., Broerse, J.E.W., & Kupper, F. (forthcoming). Towards science museums as platform for public and stakeholder engagement; lessons learned from the Nano2All project.
  • Fraaije, A.F., Van der Meij, M.G., Broerse, J.E.W., & Kupper, F. (forthcoming). Arts-based public engagement on emerging technologies; literature review revealing its mechanisms, goals and challenges.
  • Baungaard, C., Kok, K.W.P, den Boer, A.C.L., Brierley, C., van der Meij, M.G., Gjefsen, M.D., Wenink, J., Wagner, P., Gemen, R., Regeer, B.J., and Broerse, J.E.W. (2021). FIT4FOOD2030: Future-proofing Europe’s Food Systems with Tools for Transformation and a Sustainable Food Systems Network. Nutrition Bulletin 46(11): 172-184.
  • Kok, K.P.W., den Boer, A.C.L., Cesuroglu, T., Van der Meij, M.G., de Wildt-Liesveld, R., Regeer, B.J. and Broerse, J.E.W. (2019). Transforming Research and Innovation for Sustainable Food Systems—A Coupled-Systems Perspective, Sustainability 11(24), 7176.
  • Van der Meij, M. G., Heltzel, A. A. L. M., Broerse, J. E. W., & Kupper, F. (2018). Frame Reflection Lab: a Playful Method for Frame Reflection on Synthetic Biology. NanoEthics 12(2): 155-172.
  • Van der Meij, M. G. (2017). Playful Reflection: Designing methods for playful reflection on research and innovation. Dissertation.
  • Van der Meij, M.G., Broerse, J.E.W., & Kupper, F. (2017). Conceptualizing playfulness for reflection processes in responsible research and innovation contexts: a narrative literature review. Journal of Responsible Innovation 4(1): 43-63.
  • van der Meij, M.G., Kupper, F., & Broerse, J.E.W (2017). Supporting citizens in reflection on synthetic biology by means of video-narratives. Science Communication: 1-32.
  • van der Meij, M.G., Kupper, F., & Broerse, J.E.W (2017). RRI & science museums; prototyping an exhibit for reflection on emerging and potentially controversial research and innovation. JCOM 16(04): A02.
  • Van der Meij, M.G. (2016). Kinderen, papa’s en mama’s, natuurlijkheid en biotechnologie. Podium voor Bio-ethiek. Thema: Natuur & Natuurlijkheid, Jaargang 23, nr 4.
  • Van der Meij, M.G., and Stijnen, G. (2016). Canvassing Opinions, a workshop for RRI strategy development in RRI: A quick start guide for science engagement organisations, Khodzhaeva, A. and Troncoso, A. (ends), ECSITE, p 11-12.
  • Van der Meij, M.G. and Stijnen, G. (2016). Toolkit: RRI workshop for science & technology centers and museums.
  • Van der Meij, M.G. and Kupper, F. (2016). Toolkit: Frame Reflection Lab, exploring opinions on synthetic biology. (Click this link to download the presentation)
  • Meij, M.G., van der, Kupper, F., Beers, P.J., and Broerse, J.E.W (2016). Hybrid e-learning tool TransLearning: video storytelling to foster vicarious learning within multi-stakeholder collaboration networks, International Journal of Lifelong Education 35(4): 413-429.
  • Van der Meij, M.G., and Stijnen, G. (2016). Acting as fora for dialogue, how? Kennislink.
  • Van der Meij, M.G. (2015). Opinion Lab – Towards informal learning spaces for deliberation on science. Roots, Botanic Gardens Conservation International Education Review 12(2): 32-34. Online edition can be found here.
  • Van der Meij, M.G. (2015). Reflections on the impact of (playful) deliberation processes in contexts of responsible research and innovation, Jcom 14(03): 1-8; Jcom Commentary.
  • Kupper, F., Van der Meij, M.G. (2015). Ontdek wat je vindt in het Frame Reflection Lab. Podium voor Bio-ethiek. Thema: Nieuwe didactische werkvormen in ethiekonderwijs 22(11): 20-23.
  • Van der Meij, M.G. (2012). Spel met Vertrouwen. Van Ruler, B. (eds.). Communicatie NU (part 1), Adformatie, p. 16.
  • Van der Meij, M.G., Hong, C.P., Wehrmann, C. (2012). Professionalisation in Science Communication: Reflections on competences perceived by PCST2012 participants as required in their work. In Bucchi, M., Trench, B. (eds.) PCST2012, 12th International Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference, Book of Papers, Observa Science in Society, Vicenza, p. 219-222.
  • Van der Meij (2009). Communicatieadvies ter bevordering van kennisuitwisseling tussen onderzoekers en beleidsmakers over klimaatgerelateerd Zee en Kust Onderzoek (ZKO).
  • Van der Meij (2008). Materiaal en Proces: Kringloop van de Architectuur. Dax Magazine, September 2008, Vol. 21, p. 32-37.
  • Van der Meij (2007). Education in Rural Areas. In M.C.A Van der Sanden (eds.), You can’t Just Blame the Crocodile, TU Delft, Delft, 2007, p. 31-41 , ISBN 978-90-79347-01-08.
  • Van der Meij (2006). Werkoverleg aan de koffietafel. Delta, Volume 38, issue 11, 2006, Delft.
  • Holper, M, van der Meij, M & van Kesteren, IEH (2006). Product personality considerations in materials selection. Proceedings of the Future Design conference, Oktober 31st - November 2nd, Seoul 2006, p. 490-507.
  • Van der Meij (2006). Pal. In Tijs Goldschmidt (eds.), De eilandbaron; Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennep: Amsterdam, 2006, p 55-61.
  • Dekker, H., Nevelainen, M., Van der Meij, M.G., Hong, C., Kodde, M., Van der Vlist, J. (2006). Jack the Kribber; prijsvraag Kribben van de Toekomst. Publicatie voor Rijkswaterstaat en CUR.